THE PATH TO A MAN’S TRIPTYCH

INTERVIEWER: EWA TRZCIONKA, PHOTOS: WOJCIECH TRZCIONKA

BRENNA 18.5.2017

ARCHITECTURE PEOPLE TRAVEL

The first title of this interview was “The Host”. I was wondering if Robert Konieczny (KWK Promes, Poland) felt at home in the house he had designed for himself: not like in an icon or an architectural object, but just that – at home. For five years, I watched the concept change, the first walls appear and the entire house take shape. Who didn’t, anyway? Every person interested in Polish architecture kept an eye on him. After all, Konieczny is a recognizable creator and the winner of prestigious prizes in Poland and abroad. But what was hidden behind that façade then? Where was his own home when he kept designing dream-like houses for others? 
I went to Brenna with some cake. The leaves were already red and golden, and the air was incredibly clear. I found Robert on a deckchair behind the house, catching the autumn sun rays. He was calm and smiling. He felt at home. He was near the forest. I felt that I didn’t want to ask him questions about architecture: the day was too beautiful to do that. 

Oh, what nice plastic plates. They greatly match the contemporary minimalist architecture.

Stuff it.

Don’t you care about such details? Was it the same in the past?

No. When we designed the first houses, we even selected suitable cutlery for the clients. Plates, chairs and everything else had to match.

So you used to select them for the clients, but didn’t do that for your own new house?

Well, we did try to. Patka [Patrycja, Robert Konieczny’s wife – editor’s note] chose nice porcelain tableware, but I don’t know the origin of these plastic plates, though I really like them.

A new house. Maybe you have reached a higher level of existence.

Maybe. (he laughs)

Do you feel at home here?

When I come here, I don’t want to go back to Katowice to work. This is my place and I feel good here. There’s always something to do. First of all, I feel that I’m the host here. I must tend to many things and check if everything is all right, like in every house.

Did you have a house before?

I was raised in a house. I spent the first nine years in my family’s house in Ruda Śląska and that house still appears in my dreams. When I had to leave it because my parents got a flat in Katowice, it was a drama to me. From that moment on, I felt alien.

Was that your grandparents’ house?

Yes, but my parents and I had our flat there. The great-grandmother lived downstairs and the grandparents lived in another part. It was an old family residence.

Multigenerational homes always have a good influence on people.

Yes, but today I understand why my parents wanted to move out. I didn’t get it at that time because it was my best place in the world. It meant a great childhood. You know the past life: children were able to run around morning till evening. They only came back home when it got dark. It was full freedom. We wandered across wild gardens, orchards, railway tracks, slag heaps and bunkers. We built tree houses, too.

Do your girls enjoy similar freedom here in Brenna?

The times have changed. But we recently let them go and they ran to the river to play. They ran back squealing and told us that they had seen a snake and a viper. When you hear such a thing, you get a bit nervous because it’s dangerous.

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And what did you tell them?

Not to go there again.

How could you!

And what would you have told them?

To go away and not to tease the animals.

They actually saw the viper one metre in front of them and ran away. In fact, they go there anyway, but they wear rubber boots because a bite is nothing nice. I’ve already been bitten by a snake here. I didn’t notice it while leaving the car, so it got scared and bit me. I spat on a finger and rubbed the leg because I was terribly dirty and I saw two red spots. The locals said, “Come on, you’ll be fine.” Someone advised me to drink calcium. I drove around to find a chemist’s. It was Sunday, so I only found an open one in Skoczów. I drank calcium, but I felt very bad at night and had difficulty breathing. It was a sleepless night with drinking calcium, so in the morning I went to my fellow physician in Cieszyn – a gynaecologist. (he laughs)

Yes, a gynaecologist is the best option when it comes to snake bites.

He was the only physician I knew and it was already Wednesday. I had blood tests and he said that it was some cross, not a viper. The locals say that vipers, smooth snakes and crosses of those species live here, and that I was bitten by a smooth snake or a cross. I felt bad until Friday. When I think that it could happen to my child... A physician who lives up there always wears high boots (and makes his children do the same) and keeps serum in the fridge.

What else lurks here?

Only snakes, ticks and vipers. They’ve always been here – we’re the guests.

Do you feel like an intruder or assimilate?

The entire idea of the house was about assimilation. That is why the concept changed. It took me two years to design the first house. When you design for yourself, you work hastily and overtime, so the initial design was a result of tiredness.

I remember it.

You remember “Paśnik” [the hay rack]?

When did it occur to you that it was all wrong?

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I said that on the plot, on the second day of construction. We were sitting here with my dad, Lenka [the daughter – editor’s note] and Patrycja, and after two days of digging I stopped the works. They had already dug a considerable foundation pit. I cannot explain that decision even today. It was both rational and abstract. I suddenly felt, “No and that’s final!” Is that professionalism? I guess not.

But it was your house. You were a professional as well as an investor, an owner and a future resident.

It took me some time to understand that it probably was a professional decision. When I heard about landslides and collapsing houses in Poland, I was anxious. I decided to stop the construction of something much more hazardous than the idea that was to follow. I understood that I wanted the house to be in symbiosis with nature, not to fight nature. Better late than never.

What was the main reason for the change?

If you dig a ditch for the foundations or a retaining wall across the slope and then backfill it incorrectly, water might fill it in. Then it reaches the superficial layers, which soften and slide. Everything goes down. The constructor advised me not to disturb the soil too much, but how was that possible with a retaining wall? I didn’t know what to do, but I felt I had to stop it.

And what did Patrycja say? She was also waiting for her future house.

Imagine this: you’re going to the cinema with a guy and he suddenly refuses. A certain tension appears, but you can cope with it. Now imagine my situation. I don’t know a good comparison. Maybe the wedding moment is a suitable one. The woman is waiting and I say “No”. I don’t know who feels worse then. Back then on site, I had to say that we were stopping the construction of a house designed for two years and that I needed to design it anew – and I said it. And Patka retorted, “Are you kidding me? How long will it take you to prepare a new design?” A bit scared, I replied, “Three days”. It was Saturday. I told the excavator’s operator not to accept any other jobs because I would contact him on Monday and we would continue. I don’t remember if we talked on our way home, to Katowice. I guess we didn’t. I erased that incredible burden from my memory, but I was simultaneously thinking what to do next and what that house was supposed to be like.

And what was the first design like?

It took a long time, so it was a result of tiredness. I wanted too much and I compromised: a window here, a terrace there... But with three days ahead, I had to work my a**e off! I rushed on and accepted no compromise. It was all about one idea: the house as a frame for the view.

That’s understandable in such location. Who found this place?

Patka started it all. She was looking for a plot. I didn’t want that. At first, she wanted to move to a house on the outskirts of Katowice, but it wasn’t logistically fine by me. She was quiet for half a year. Then she wanted mountains to get us an escape. We planned a small house, some 50 sq. m, but then we kept changing it and the surface area exceeded 100 sq. m.

What is the surface area of the “Ark”?

100 sq. m of heated rooms and 40 sq. m of closed terraces, with utility rooms downstairs and a non-utility attic above. That’s a lot already, but since I was to change the design, I wanted the house to become cheaper. It was also supposed to be safe. I twisted the one-storey house to detach it from the slope; the entrance is on the ground level, but the sleeping room is on the first floor level. This gives us a feeling of safety.

And views from every room. What a beautiful foal!

It was born recently, less than two weeks ago. Coming back to the concept, the most important fact is that the house is a “bridge”. It stands on three walls positioned along the slope and water flows underneath; it doesn't disturb the soil too much. The construction took four years – a sheer nightmare to me. I grew old and suffered from insomnia. The design in Szczecin was being implemented at the same time [the construction of “Przełomy” Dialogue Centre in Szczecin – editor’s note]. Sometimes I had to supervise the construction in Szczecin and then come here to consult the highlanders [a construction crew with which Konieczny has cooperated for years – editor’s note]. At times, I came back to Katowice on the same day. It was hell, all the more so because I was working on my own house. I solved the problems of a client, an architect and a contractor simultaneously. It was an incredible burden. I didn’t have enough money to build that house, either. Luckily, it was then that I learned how recognizable I was as an architect. Many companies helped me; they contacted me themselves. I learned a lot from those contacts. For instance, I had been interested mainly in window frames in the past. I had not known the importance of glass. It turned out that panes were crucial! Crystal panes ensure perfect transparency from the view side, while southern panes block 50% of thermal energy, preventing the house from heating up, but there is no visual difference between them. Back then I didn’t know that the “Ark” would become so popular in the media, but this makes me feel that I deserve those panes. (he laughs)

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Let me come back to the essence of this house. Did Patrycja make you the host?

Patka likes to move and travel. When the house was ready and we were about to come here again for some time, I heard, “What? The ‘Ark’ again?” I was dumbstruck! Come on! Did it mean that if I hadn’t built this house, we could travel to nice hotels till the end of our lives without any duties? I don’t regret that we have it. I grow attached to places. I’m not a home bird, but I like to have a place to come back to. However, life made me move places continuously. None of them was mine. My family’s house still appears in my dreams... and I have liked mountains since my childhood.

Which mountains have shaped you?

I spent my holidays under canvas with my grandparents since I was three. We camped for two full months. I was raised in the mountains – Beskidy and Pieniny. Their peaks were our home. There were no campsites: we simply came and set up camp by the river, such as the Danube or the Poprad. And Brenna Leśnica? I was here every year. That’s why it was so natural to me to build a house here. Brenna isn’t the same as Wisła or Ustroń, which are already resorts with crowds of elegant strollers in promenades. Here, I can slide down in rubber boots and nobody minds. It’s cool! It’s a normal place. As a kid, I was happy when grandma dressed me in old trousers and an old shirt. I knew I could roll around in it and nobody would be mad. I felt free. I wear such old clothes here, too.

I’d like to talk a bit about the history of the places where you lived. You left your family’s house in Ruda Śląska and settled in Katowice. What happened next?

I lived there till the beginning of my studies. Then my grandpa died and I came back to the family’s house for a while to live with my grandma, but it was incidental due to the studies and friends. I visited her only from time to time. Then I met Marlena [Marlena Wolnik, an architect and Robert’s ex-wife, with whom he founded KWK Promes – editor’s note] and we settled in my parents-in-law’s house in Rybnik. I spent 10 years there.

Did you feel at home there?

No. Never. It wasn’t my place.

How did you leave it after splitting up with your wife?

Moving out was a drama. It was a horror to me... When we split up, Marlena left home and I managed the entire studio by myself. Actually, KWK Promes at that time was me and two apprentices. It was unbelievable: the studio was already famous worldwide, with works published abroad, but I worked in my parents-in-law’s cellar and was about to leave! I was barely able to survive. It was before I received the award for the “Aatrial House” [the world’s best house according to the jury of WAN House of the Year Award 2006 – editor’s note]. I was finishing the design of an office building and the deal was that I would move out after completing it. I finished the day before the Christmas Eve and I had to move out. No home, no studio, no money. “No money” was the biggest problem.

Stressful?

Terribly. I don’t know where I’d be without my mate who helped me then. He let me into a flat to be taken over by the City Office. He wasn’t able to rent it or do anything else with it. It was ruined and had no central heating. When I moved in, my highlanders, with whom I’ve cooperated for years, helped me renovate that flat for free. They hacked off plasters, painted the walls and improved one bathroom; the rest stayed unchanged. Still, I have a few funny memories connected with that place.

So that was the headquarters of KWK Promes? 

Yes, it was the headquarters of that famous KWK Promes studio, with me and two apprentices. Actually, one of them worked with me for a long time to come. On that day, he moved in with one more fellow. That flat was quite a mess, anyway. Some reoffender had lived there before and the police kept chasing him. One day we were sitting together to keep ourselves warm when the police came. “What are you doing here?” “Sitting,” I said. “Whose flat is it?” “A friend’s.” “Where is he?” “At the seaside.” I lied to them a bit. (he laughs) And it began: they called the police station and checked our IDs. I tried to talk to them, so I made one of them angry and he said, “If I find you here again, I’ll arrest you immediately.” I thought, “Oh f**k!” Afterwards, whenever I heard the intercom ring, I ran to the door to check if it was the police...

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Robert, you’re telling those stories with a smile, but how did you feel then?

Not good. Meetings with clients in the studio were very stressful because the police might come any time and take their “architect” away – in handcuffs. (he laughs) Luckily, our stay there was short and ended suddenly. It was winter. We recorded something like “This is KWK Promes...” on our answer phone – and remember that no activity was allowed there. Someone from the City Office called us and discovered the truth. My mate phoned and said we had to leave immediately – in three hours! I took everything to Patrycja’s flat on the tenth floor on the Paderewski housing estate in Katowice, where I was staying at that time. We managed to set up some working table. There were already four of us working in the studio. Add to that Patrycja and a small child... A massacre.

So you already had a family.

Yes, I was settling down, slowly and gradually, (he laughs) but we didn’t have an Internet connection in that flat, so I used to visit the previous flat secretly because I left a hidden computer there. It was freezing cold inside, with a total mess around. When we worked there it had been cold, too; we had worn jackets, hats and gloves all day long. We had only cut off glove fingertips to make it easier to work with the computer. Then, I went there once to read an important e-mail. I opened it and read that we had received an award for the world’s best house...

In that ruined illegal office?

Yes! Moreover, they asked our phone number. My God... Some woman called me. It was like a scene from a cheap, surreal film! (he laughs)

A tragicomedy!

Add to that her joyful voice: “Hello! My most sincere congratulations! You are invited for lunch when you collect the award in London!” (he laughs) I made a quick calculation and it turned out that we could spend the award on a gas central heating...

Without the tickets to London, of course?

No, tickets included. That’s why we didn’t fly there. We had no money at all... It was...

Surreal... And what did you say to the lady from London? 

That I was too busy to come. “You know, I’m on the go all the time. Dubai! Hong Kong!” (he laughs)

So you were crouching there in the corner in your hat and fingerless gloves when you learned that you were a world-famous architect...

Such was the year of 2007 in KWK Promes, 10 years ago. It was a breakthrough year. Oh yes... Afterwards, we rented an office in Katowice. Things got better.

Where did you live? 

In Patrycja’s flat, so it still wasn’t my place. I constantly felt that I didn’t have my own place. We both know how fantastic it is. (he laughs) You never know what will happen to you, do you?

What was next?

The company started to work great; we introduced order. Then, Patka started to come up with various ideas. I’m grateful to her today and I don’t regret it, but it was hard. First, she wanted to move out to the outskirts. I knocked it out of her head because our location was comfortable: the kindergarten, the school, the work, the park and public transport were all close. The logistics was great. I convinced her, but we made a deal that since our flat in Katowice was so small, we would build a house in Brenna. However, building the house took a lot of time. Patrycja was astonished that it didn’t take half a year and kept saying that we could have simply bought a cottage, but the cottages were smallish. Or smalley?

Smallish.

Thus, we decided to get a bigger flat, but it was a problem to me. The “Ark” consumed my money and I had to take out a credit. I don’t regret it now because we live on the same housing estate, only in a bigger flat. I have to admit that a woman motivates a man and sets up challenges. I feel proud.

You feel that you have a real woman by your side.

Yes – and new challenges all the time. (he laughs)

Who’s the owner of that bigger flat?

Both of us. I finally got my own place. I finally felt it. It was two years ago. Patka actually told me that it was owing to her that I finally had something truly mine instead of living like a playboy who always stayed at other people’s places – and it’s true. She motivated me because all I had been good at before was investing in cars.

Right...

Even when I was completely and a b s o l u t e l y broke, I had always been able to find a car that attracted me and made me spend all my money on it. I was a total idiot.

But you had a car for visiting clients and making an impression. A flat has no wheels, after all. Maybe it was quite a strategic thought? But let’s come back to the “Ark”. How long have you lived here?

A bit more than a year and it still has some unfinished things.

Then I dare say they will remain unfinished.

(he laughs) Such a danger exists, but I keep motivating myself. I call electricians, I urge on people and solve problems as they appear. I just live! For instance, I was planning to apply for garbage collection in the commune headquarters, but then I decided I would transport it myself. I don’t want to put anything next to the house because animals visit us. They would dig in the garbage and it wouldn’t be healthy to them, either.

Which animals visit you?

The name “Ark” actually comes from the ark...

...that landed on the slope of Mount Ararat.

...or, better said, on the slope of Równica. (he laughs) This place is magical: all animals from the vicinity started coming here. Farm animals grazing nearby, like sheep and horses, have trampled down the grass because they stay under the house and rub themselves against its intrados and edges... You can actually see how dirty the walls are in those places. Deer come here in winter. Only the hare does not rub itself against the walls because it’s too small, but it lives here, too. There’s a nice story connected with it. We were staying in the house, when I saw a hare sitting still through the southern windows. It was like a Monty Python’s sketch, where the scene keeps changing and one guy sits still. We were walking around and turning on lights, but the hare was sitting. We finally closed the walls and lifted the bridge. We went to sleep. In the morning, I met the hare under the house. Do you know what it wanted? When we’re not there, it comes to sleep under the house. As it saw us, it was astonished (it stays here more often than we do) and was afraid to come to its lair. It only did so when we went to sleep. It’s usually alone, but one time it came with a female.

Everyone must settle down one day, you know.

It showed the female the house...

...and whispered, “Look, baby. Konieczny designed it for me.”

(he laughs) Do you know what’s cool about this place? When I come here in the evening, it’s very dark and I can’t see anything, but if I catch the hare in the headlights, I know that the house is empty. It’s safe. If the hare is absent, I’m more alert.

It’s a good deal – security for accommodation. It’s what a good host would offer. Still, you mention the fear of staying in the middle of nowhere. Is it changing?

It’s different now. Patrycja was afraid of staying away from other houses from the start, hence the solutions like detaching the house from the slope or sliding walls from the slope side. I wanted her to feel safe, comfortable and private here. It’s enough to spot a tourist approach the big window at night to get scared. Still, I didn’t want all those solutions. Take the drawbridge: I was sceptical because it meant technological problems. I finally invented the solution consisting in connecting the drawbridge with a shutter. When I’m alone here, I also close the house from the slope side in the evening. It’s natural to me to separate myself from the surroundings. I still have the view of Brenna. I really like it: an outline of the mountains and house lights in the valley. I don’t care that others watch me from the distance. I like to look beyond the house.

Right. The house. Your house. 

That’s great. It’s the place I can come back to – the place where I can stay.

What makes you the host here?

For instance duties. I must remember to turn off the taps and lights or close the windows. When the alarm turns on, I wonder what happened. It’s usually due to flies because it’s simply impossible to enter this house. Still, I wonder if some pipe broke...

Aren’t you afraid of leaving the house unattended?

It’s basically safe here and everyone around watches those who come. My neighbour Zbyszek always keeps an eye on the house, so he spots all strangers.

And have you protected yourself against losing the view? Is there a chance that someone will build a house in front of yours? There are building plots down there, too.

I do the lottery to buy them, but my motivation is weak because I have predicted no more than two numbers correctly thus far. (he laughs)

Maybe it’s better to save money than wait for luck?

Well said. I keep saying that it’s the way good God forces me to work. If I won, I’d laze around, but since I haven’t, I must do my job. The terrain itself is very difficult, most probably due to landslides. There’s another cool story about that. They came here to perform boreholes before starting the construction. I was absent, so I talked to Zbyszek afterwards. He approached them on a motorcycle and said that the area was pure rock. The guys drilled barely to a depth of one metre and made off. They actually failed to do that test. I got angry because we only saw what it was about when we were already digging the foundation pit: only clay and stones four metres BGL. I called the constructor and the geologist, who sent a girl here (probably his daughter) and she said that it was eluvial soil. I replied that no test had actually been carried out, so the matter was serious, and we took a closer look at the terrain. There is probably something below my house that stops the soil (you can tell by the terrain shape), but the risk of sliding down remains. It’s like that all around here. Can you see that nice little house with a grey roof down below? It belongs to a constructor working in Bielsko. She came to me once and said, “Do you know that we may become closer neighbours?” I replied, “I do and I apologize in advance.” (he laughs)

You sound brave, but think about it: a lady living some 300 metres away from you expects you to come round for coffee with your own coffee, coffee maker and house. Do you take into account that you might slide down?

Slide or roll... (he laughs) We may joke, but those are tough issues because I’d lose both the house and the plot. What options would remain? A stone factory? A pasture? A field? Such is life – that’s how I must approach it. Maybe this ark shape is a sign?

How do you spend time here?

We walk in the mountains and visit hostels, such as those on Błatnia or Równica peaks. I also mow grass unless horses or rams do it first.

Does this house quiet you?

I virtually wasted some time before you came: I washed myself, ate breakfast, sat at the computer for a while, did some tidying and lay on the deckchair.

A proper Saturday.

It rarely happens to me. I usually start thinking what I should do. I admit that if the grass hadn’t been mown, I’d be on my way to mow it because I know it would get worse otherwise, especially since the horses are turned in. It’s cool around here and the people are nice. You have to do physical work, like my neighbour: he brings down wood, works in the household, repairing and building, or goes somewhere. He’s always active. Shaking hands with him feels like touching a rock.

It’s real work. I sometimes feel that we’re occupied with abstraction...

So do I, and I feel humble. I “think things up”, while he does things. Do you know what he once told me? He said he didn’t have to worry about his diet. We were talking about sausage and I told him that pork was heavy and not too healthy. He replied that his grandmother ate pork and was still alive, approaching 100 years of age. After field work she had been able to eat everything. She had needed no diet because her organism had digested any food. People like you and I sit down all day, so we have to be careful.

And we look for alternative movement, such as sport. Moreover, we often work to hire other people, who sit our kids or tidy the house. We go to a restaurant to eat a lunch cooked by someone else. They do the most basic activities for us. 

Weird, isn’t it? On the other hand, I like my job. This place gives me physical work for balance.

You live in symbiosis. What about a garden? Have you considered arranging the space around the house? 

Yes, but only to extend the present state. There is an orchard on the way here. I want to extend it to cover the view of the houses in the foreground. I also want to plant one tree up there from the road side to protect my house against the possible fall of logs brought down from the forest. We’ll only make a platform up there because I simply like this space and don’t want to disturb it.

Since you want to plant fruit trees, will you make preserves then?

Not really. When the fruit falls off, the animals will eat it.

It’s a real ark, Noah!

This design has acquired a new meaning. It’s symbiosis in action. The horses coming here are charming, but I let them come because they mow my lawn in the first place. They save me 4.5 hours of work!

And probably look better than you in the landscape...

Especially when I have to work during a heatwave. (he laughs) My urban friends are totally lost in such situations. One day I was very tired and wanted to take a nap. My friends were staying here and didn’t know how to build a bonfire. I sent them to the forest to collect brushwood and their son asked me what “brushwood” was. Come on! He was thirteen years old! I built a bonfire using whatever was at hand; if you can’t do this here, you’re lost. You also need knowledge of mushrooms and a sense of direction. There’s always something to do here. I also design here, sitting at the kitchen table or on the veranda.

You have no office here.

I don’t need it. There’s no office in my studio, either. I work and draw anywhere, sometimes even on a newspaper or anything else I have at hand. I then have to tear it out and keep it. I’ve never paid attention to what I work on; I do most of the work in my mind. I imagine designs even when I drive and then just draw them at my work.

Do you feel like a villager now? A local?

Yes, and it really suits me. Look around: the locals have no fences or mark their area only symbolically. All the fences do is keep the fowl in. You can reach a hut from every side. Only urban people fence themselves off and build big walls. My two neighbours living just a while away are elderly ladies who often sit in front of the house and I can always join them. I don’t need a fence or pavement, either. Those stones by the entrance cost me just a little. I was thinking up and sweating over the idea of a path to the house, but then I saw small boulders in my neighbour’s yard. I bought them cheap, we laid them down and the path was ready! This is the best thing I’ve done here so far because I used to think hard about arranging the space around the house until I understood that lack of garden would be the best option and any necessary elements, like this path, would come from the mountains, not from the house. It’s an ark that sails through nature.

And you watch nature from it.

And that’s great! I watch the seasons of the year and various views. It’s all right here with nice weather, but during so-called “bad” weather the area gets beautiful! During fogs or rains I see magic through my window!

Fogs make you watch the foreground and you see the air move.

Incredible. It’s the most beautiful weather. Or take storms: I was once coming back home by bike. It was warm and raining hard. It was still calm down there, but I heard thunderclaps up here. It’s impressive in the open.

Why don’t you plant an ash tree by the corner of the house? It’s how people used to protect huts against lightning strikes. It grows fast and tall. You’d have a perfect lightning conductor and a protection against the logs brought down.

It makes sense. The furniture inside is made of whitewash ash. Maybe I should really plant that ash tree?

And then you’d only need a son to complete your triptych.

Robert Konieczny. Architect, graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice (Poland). Founder of KWK Promes, the team of which was put on the list of the world’s 44 best young architects in 2007 according to “Scalae”. Winner of the Minister of Culture’s annual award for outstanding achievements in Poland (as the second architect in history). In 2012, he became an independent expert of the Fundació Mies van der Rohe, which awards prizes in architecture every two years together with the European Commission. He won the prestigious House of the Year Award 2006 granted by World Architecture News for his “Aatrial House” design. He was also a laureate of Europe 40 under 40, organized by the European Centre for Architecture Art Design and Urban Studies. Designs by Robert Konieczny and KWK Promes have also won many other awards and distinctions, i.a. in Chicago, Barcelona and Berlin. Konieczny ranks among the Polish architects with one of the biggest numbers of works published abroad. Critic Hans Ibelings in his book “European Architecture Since 1890” lists KWK Promes as one of the contemporary Polish studios which have contributed to the development of European architecture. 

Robert Konieczny. Architect, graduate of the Faculty of Architecture at the Silesian University of Technology in Gliwice (Poland). Founder of KWK Promes.

A house nick-named "Konieczny's Ark", designed by renowned architect Robert Konieczny, has received the title of best new private house from prestigious design magazine Wallpaper.

Konieczny’s Ark is an unusual, one-storey house built in Brenna near Cieszyn (southern Poland) on one of the steep slopes of the Beskid Mountains. It is made of concrete and heavily glazed. Its simplicity is contradicted by the innovative structure on which the building rests. Due to the steepness of the slope, designers from Konieczny’s KWK Promes design studio decided to treat the house like a bridge, allowing rainwater to flow harmlessly underneath.

Konieczny’s Ark is an unusual, one-storey house built in Brenna near Cieszyn (southern Poland) on one of the steep slopes of the Beskid Mountains. It is made of concrete and heavily glazed. Its simplicity is contradicted by the innovative structure on which the building rests. Due to the steepness of the slope, designers from Konieczny’s KWK Promes design studio decided to treat the house like a bridge, allowing rainwater to flow harmlessly underneath.

Some other works by Konieczny have also gained recognition, for example the Przelomy Dialogue Centre in Szczecin received the European Prize for Urban Public Space 2016.

Some other works by Konieczny have also gained recognition, for example the Przelomy Dialogue Centre in Szczecin received the European Prize for Urban Public Space 2016.